In The Dark Knight (2008), Christopher Nolan utilizes technological advancements in digital filmmaking to create a cinematic spectacle. As a result, one need not enjoy the story or plot twists, one may simply be captivated by the crisp, clear, high quality images.
The advent of digital filmmaking opens up a multitude of possibilities, resulting in the potential of a much sharper image than with old analog film cameras. A wider range of camera lens lengths may be used; this allows the possibility of deeper focus and wider depths of field. A higher resolution may be recorded; in other words, images of the same size may now contain millions of more pixels (the make-up of an image). Because of this, more detail may be captured and displayed for viewers. Also, digital filmmaking allows for the possibility of variable frame rates. Rather than merely shooting at 24 frames per seconds (fps), filmmakers may shoot at 30, 60, or, rarely, 120 fps. This results in a more fluid motion picture.
Moreover, modern digital cameras are significantly more portable than their historic counterparts. For this reason, shots that were once impossible are now possible; this is particularly apt in regards to aerial and crane shots. Other moving techniques such as tracking and spinning are significantly more easy and graceful.
Furthermore, parts of The Dark Knight were filmed with IMAX cameras – the highest quality digital cameras available. These cameras generally use 70mm lenses and are of a much higher quality than the standard 35mm lens. IMAX pictures do not boast as wide of an aspect ratio as the standard (2.35:1), but they boast a much larger picture overall. In IMAX theaters where The Dark Knight was shown, some of the scenes were the larger IMAX size, and some of them were cut to the smaller standard size.
The high quality IMAX cameras allowed Christopher Nolan to film some extraordinary sequences such as the introductory bank heist, the car chase, and the near end scene at the Prewitt building. Other scenes, such as the hospital explosion, Batman riding the Batpod, and Lucius looking through the sonar, display ultra high quality images with incredible clarity. Moreover, spectacular aerial shots are utilized throughout the film. These breathtaking shots would likely be impossible with older technology.
It may be argued that The Dark Knight showed the world what digital filmmaking is capable of, and set the bar for the future of digital films. For this reason, no matter whether or not you actually like the film, or the direction it seems to be leading future filmmaking, it’s plain to see The Dark Knight as a landmark of modern digital cinema.